The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s motto is “That the Future May Learn From the Past.” That’s certainly true in jewelry making. While baubles of today may have larger carat gems, the artistry that is encased in the vaults of the DeWitt Wallace Collections and Conservation Building is said to be “valued more for their beauty, or their historical associations, than their monetary worth.”
Embedded into these creations include emeralds, topaz, rubies, garnets and more. This collection that stared a mere fifty years ago has less than 100 hundred pieces. While you can visit the DeWitt Wallace Museumin Williamsburg, Virginia, very often, the jewelry collection is out on exhibit so be sure to check out the website link above and call in advance to see what jewelry is available for viewing along with other historic artifacts from days gone by.
Here at Peter Suchy, we are experts at vintage and antique jewelry and since so many of our customers live far from Colonial Williamsburg we thought we’d show you some of our favorite colonial jewelry pieces contained in this collection.
Pinchbeck Copper and Zinc Alloy Necklace
In Colonial days, “pinchbeck” mean the piece was made using less expensive materials but made to look like gold or silver. This copper and zinc alloy vintage necklace certainly fits the bill. It’s a mid-18thCentury English necklace (designer unknown) but is stunning, especially if you think of the neck of the woman who wore this piece.
Flower, Bow, Knot and Teardrop Silver Necklace and Earrings
Made using past brilliants, this colonial necklace was made in the late 18th Century. The center flower in the necklace is removable and the length of this piece is adjustable depending upon how the ribbon was tied, tight or loose. A party piece to be sure in these intricate pieces from long ago.
So popular of the period was the variety in mourning jewelry. This brooch contains two funeral urns and locks of hair and was made in 1972 by Ro Webb, a jeweler from Philadelphia. Its purpose was to memorialize Mann Page and Anne Corbin Page of Virginia. Made as a brooch, it could also be worn as a pendant.
Unisex 18th Century Ring
Unlike today, men, as well as women, wore fancy rings made of various gemstones. This ring consists of a flat gold band and boasts three small garnets on each side and one large garnet graces the center. The ring is large in size so museum experts say this vintage ring could be worn by a man or a woman.
Here is another example of mourning jewelry of Colonial times. Made in 1767 it is a gold and black enamel ring and experts say this ring was a commissioned piece to commemorate the life of Ann Slade who met an early death at the age of 27. Very common for the times was to include markings on these mourning rings including the person’s name, age at death and the date of death. Common letters used to announce information so they would fit on the ring were AET for age at death and OBT for date of death. The museum also has a mourning ring for Martha Slade that is similar in design, but there is no record of any relationship between Ann and Martha Slade.
We hope you’ve enjoyed looking at some of these amazing Colonial jewelry pieces and if you are plan on visiting Williamsburg, Virginia, a stop to the DeWitt Wallace Museum is a definite must-do!
At Peter Suchy Jewelers we are experts in all types of vintage, estate, Art Deco, Edwardian, Victorian and antique jewelry. We hope you’ll stop by our showroomlocated at 1137 High Ridge Road in Stamford Connecticut.
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